Conversation Improvement: "Oh You Just Wait"
Hello and welcome back to the blog beautiful Reader!
I thought it would be good to go through some conversational tips and tricks on the blog. Conversation is something I am EXTREMELY passionate about, and I believe that we can always be learning, evolving, and improving the methods by which we communicate and build relationships with others.
So to open this new topic up today, I wanted to share my thoughts on a pretty pervasive and unhelpful phrase I've heard QUITE a bit in my lifetime and even more now that I'm pregnant: "oh you just wait..."
This phrase seems to be the catchall response that people give when someone expresses a complaint about something in their life, or even when they express joy or contentment about something.
Expressing how much you had to pee in your first trimester? "Oh you just wait 'til your third!"
Expressing how great marriage has been? "Oh you just wait 'til you hit the seven year itch!"
Telling a friend how frustrated you've been trying to get two kids out the door in the morning? "Oh you just wait 'til you have to get THREE out the door!"
I'm sure you can recognize this statement, and probably even remember saying it yourself at times. It's a common response in our culture, but today, I want to encourage all of us to put it on the back shelf or potentially never use it again.
Well, firstly, I don't feel that this phrase contributes anything to the conversation. Think about it! What does saying "oh you just wait" accomplish?
Does it add to the conversation? Does it stimulate a positive response? What is it for?
Honestly, it seems to be about the speaker exerting a level of dominance over the other person. You think you have it hard now? Well I've experienced worse than you! You think your life is good? Come back down to reality sweetie! It's really just a negative, sometimes teasing way of one party exerting their authority on a subject or injecting a level of skepticism or negativity into the conversation. In short, it's a conversation downer.
So am I saying that you should never share your wisdom or difficult experiences? No. But there are ways of doing that other than by devaluing your conversation partner with a condescending "you just wait."
Let's flip around my earlier examples.
Did she express how much she had to pee in her first trimester? "Oh I can imagine! It got really bad for me in the third!"
Did she express how great her new marriage has been? "Oh I'm so happy to hear that! Things got tough around 7 years, but we worked through it and are happier than ever!"
Did a friend tell you how frustrated she's been trying to get two kids out the door in the morning? "Girl I feel you! My three give me a run for my money in the morning!"
See how much more pleasant these responses are? They not only build the conversation up, but they allow the listener to get to know your story in a non-dominating or hostile way. It keeps balance in the dynamic and allows both parties to shine.
And the best part? It opens up an opportunity for the listener to confide in you or ask you more questions. It gives her space to say, "tell me more!" or "wow, I'm struggling with two kids and you have three! Could you give me some tips that work for you guys?" This is relationship BUILDING.
It's highly unlikely that a person is going to feel excited to ask questions or confide in your further if they were just slapped with an "oh you just wait." It's a dialogue and conversation killer. Because what is the listener supposed to say to that? All they can do is laugh quietly and hope the conversation moves towards a new topic. Any opportunities to relate with each other or learn new tips or advice is snuffed out with a quick "oh you just wait."
Ultimately, "oh you just wait" causes us to inadvertently hurt others. It makes the person who confided about their issues feel small, and potentially negates their experience. The reality is that no matter how much more we've gone through than someone else, our experience does not negate the frustration or difficulties that they might be experiencing. It is our duty as loving Christians to extend a loving hand in conversation to those around us so that we might uplift one another instead of dragging each other down.
While it may seem like a harmless or even humorous way of communicating, the phrase "oh you just wait" is actually quite rude and can cause a breakdown in conversational vulnerability.
There are many other ways to express that you've been through more difficult circumstances or that life gets harder. And at the end of the day, most of us will find this out on our own and don't need a rude person saying "oh you just wait" every time we share a new or difficult experience we are encountering.
I'm not saying we need to be perfect in conversation or that we will never inadvertently hurt others by accident, but I do believe in the power of words and that the right conversational skills have the ability to make or break many of your personal AND professional relationships. As a rule of thumb, try to validate the frustrations of people around you while also sharing your own related experiences. Don't downplay their struggles and try to keep the conversation flowing. You'll be glad you did.